World Cup 2014: Underdogs Take Over As First Part Of Groups Stage Comes To An End
The first part of the groups stage is coming to an end, after teams in Group H make their debut, with Belgium defeating Algeria. So far it has been all about the underdogs and many of the so-called favorites have failed to impress.
Some of those with chances to move on are a complete surprise and the goal differential will certainly come into play in some instances. At the end of day five at the 2014 World Cup, there are some clear winners and losers, some of which are not the favorites.
Brazil won the 2014 World Cup opening match against Cameroon 3-1, which in paper is what most expected, however, the Verde Amarela‘s victory was surrounded by controversy. Brazil’s biggest star, Neymar, scored two of the three goals making his millions of fans happy to finally see his World Cup debut.
Coming in, Croatia was favorite to advance to the round of 16 at this World Cup. If Mexico can pull the upset against Brazil on Tuesday, that could all change. Cameroon doesn’t have much of a chance here.
Group B delivered one of the biggest shocks in the 2014 World Cup thus far, when defending champions, Spain, fell in spectacular fashion against the Netherlands, 5-1. This match was a repeat of the 2010 final, where the result gave the Spaniards their first title ever.
Fast forward four years and it’s a completely different story, as Spain didn’t impress and looked unorganized in their World Cup debut. The Netherlands took full advantage and is sitting in the lead.
With Spain in last place, Group B is wide open for Chile and Australia. However, the South Americans have a big opportunity to move on to the next round. Netherlands and Chile look to advance, leaving Spain to lick its wounded pride.
One of the most even groups in the 2014 World Cup, Group C, has been wide open since the inception and it continues to be so as the tournament moves on.
Colombia is no powerhouse, however, it was lucky enough to be drawn with weaker teams and looks to capitalize by moving on. The South Americans are favorites to advance along with Ivory Coast, which impressed against Japan.
Group D is not the “Group of Death”, but maybe it should have been, with three former World Cup winners, it was always a tough one to predict. However, nobody really expected to see Uruguay at the bottom of the pack after their 2014 debut.
Much like Spain, the Latin Americans, had a less than stellar opening match against the underdog in the group. Costa Rica, which not many assigned any chances of advancing, finds itself in first place with a nice goal advantage, after their surprising 3-1 victory.
England and Italy will likely have to up their performances from their World Cup opening match, if they want to advance. Sadly, it looks like Uruguay may be going home here, but it’s up in the air whether Costa Rica can keep the level of play they showed against the South Americans.
No real surprises with Group E with France continuing as the heavy favorite to move one. Les Bleus crushed Honduras’ hopes with a 3-0 victory. Even without their main star Franck Ribery, the French are currently at the top of the table and not too worried about not moving on.
Switzerland also looks strong in Group E, after defeating an young and talented Ecuador squad, which was unable to stop the Europeans in their second consecutive World Cup appearance. The table should remain the way it currently stands.
Even though Argentina beat Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Europeans were impressive and have a good chance to qualify for the round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup.
Of course Messi and company are surely moving on, with the opportunity to trump his nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo, and finally win his first World Cup title. This time around they are favorites to win it all. Iran and Nigeria’s draw in their initial match was one of the most boring matches thus far.
This was supposed to be the “Group of Death”, but after the humiliating defeat of Portugal at the hands of Germany in a disastrous debut for Crisitano Ronaldo, things look much different. The Germans were unstoppable, even before Pepe’s red card, neutralizing the current Ballon d’Or winner.
The surprising result opens the door for the U.S. team, which won against their nemesis, Ghana — which eliminated the Americans from the last two World Cups — despite looking less than sharp. Ghana could have won the match at any given time, however, Team USA lucked out, giving coach Jurgen Klinsmann the win.
Group E is not easy to predict, before or during the 2014 World Cup. With no clear favorite, it’s one of those groups that can truly go to anyone. After defeating a stronger than expected Algeria 2-1, Belgium continues on the path to the next round, as many expect.
As far as South Korea and Russia are concerned, there is no heavy favorite in the Tuesday afternoon match. The Russians have a slight lead to win the second seed in Group E at this World Cup.
The 2014 World Cup is turning out to be all about the underdogs, which is not a bad thing altogether and makes for fun matches and an interesting tournament. Who knows, we may see one of these underdogs go all the way to the knockout round.
[Image via Twitter, Tables courtesy of FIFA.com]